HAWTHORNE — Under a cloudy sky with Mount Grant and Walker Lake as the backdrop, the world’s largest ammunition storage depot welcomed a new commanding officer Thursday morning.
Lt. Col. Gregory K. Gibbons exchanged duty stations with Lt. Col. Craig M. Short as he became the 40th commander of the Hawthorne Army Depot. Gibbons becomes the 21st Army officer to command the installation, following its transfer from the Navy in 1977. Short heads to Gibbons’ previous duty station at the Pentagon.
Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French, commanding general of the Joint Munitions Command and Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan, commander of the Nevada Army National Guard, led the ranks of distinguished visitors who attended the ceremony. The leaders of the town of Hawthorne, which bills itself as “America’s Patriotic Home,” turned out in full force to bid farewell to the departing commander and to welcome the incoming one.
Prior to the ceremony, Mary Conelly, representative for Sen. Harry Reid; Glenna Smith, representative for Sen. Dean Heller; and Michael Guss, representing Congressman Horsford, presented certificates to Short to thank him for his service to the depot, community and state.
Col. Roger L. McCreery, commander of Tooele Army Depot, Utah, presided over the change of command. Both Tooele and Hawthorne are subordinates of the Joint Munitions Command, headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. McCreery explained the background and meaning of the transfer of the depot flag (colors) from one commander to another. He thanked Short for always keeping his commitment to Hawthorne in his sights and welcomed Gibbons as he reminisced of shared deployment experiences.
Short emphasized the importance and value of the depot as he thanked his chain of command and depot employees for their support to achieve success.
A New York native, Gibbons was raised in a military family and has devoted his life and career to the Army. He has had multiple deployments overseas including Operation Iraqi Freedom and two deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. Prior to assuming command at Hawthorne, Gibbons was assigned to the Pentagon as a plans officer in the Strategic Initiatives Group and as assistant executive officer to the Assistant Chief of Staff Installation Management, Department of the Army.
He stated that he and his family were thrilled and delighted to begin their next journey and become a part of the Hawthorne family.
The ceremony also featured a color guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars,Post 2313, Hawthorne, and the national anthem was sung by Elisabeth Rogers, an employee of the operating contractor, SOC Nevada LLC.